Ghost ship stories are a mixture of reality and imagination. The still vague and unconfirmed details contained in almost all of them create their partially fictional nature. The sea has always been a mystery, and it is still a subject of numerous legends and research; it is due to be further explored, and will likely never stop being explored. Whether the vessels were abandoned or occupied by corpses, these ghost shi’ stories will never stop to draw attention.
1. Ourang Medan
This ghost ship’s story fairly earns its mysterious nature mostly from the state of the crew that was found. Eyes and mouths were wide open, and the faces expressed true terror; bodies were found in a grotesque curve, and some even pointed in a specific direction, as if they had all witnessed and experienced something horrifying; however, not a single member of the crew appeared to be wounded. No one could ever confirm this; no facts regarding the ship could be confirmed.
Even the date of the ship’s construction is missing; the story may therefore be lost to history. According to some sources, an unknown ship noticed the Ourang Medan around 500 miles away from the southeastern part of the Marshall Islands. Another source claims that the ship’s one and only survivor told an Italian missionary that a poisonous leak of sulfuric acid caused the crew’s death. These were the survivor’s last words. A third version of the story comes from two American vessels that were navigating City of Baltimore, the Straits of Malacca and Silver Star, who received distressed S.O.S. messages in Morse code from Ourang Medan. Nothing more can be said about this ship. Nevertheless, as a result of the hypotheses published—despite being just a theories—the story of the Ourang Medan is quite the legend.
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2. Carroll A. Deering
Carroll A. Deering was a large five-mast cargo ship that met a tragic end. Launched in order to transport goods overseas, the ship faced a destiny that is still disputed. The most perplexing fact regarding the ship that the crew was never found—dead or alive—leaving a full list of questions that are still waiting to be answered. On January 31, 1921, it was noticed that a large ship was stranded off the coast of North Carolina. When the coast guards accessed the ship, they found it deserted; however, some functions were still working, as if there were plans to use them.
Two lifeboats were also missing—as well as some provisions like the navigation equipment—leaving hopes for the guard that the sailors left off in attempt to save themselves, but no bodies were found. It appears that since from the ship’s date of construction, things were misfortunate for the Deering.
At first, William H. Merritt was selected to be the captain, but he had fallen ill, and the owner of the company—G. G. Deering—had to look for another suitable replacement. It was a known fact that the crew couldn’t get along with each other; there was the exchange of life-threatening comments from the first mate to the second chosen captain, W. B. Wormell. After further examination, the ship was destroyed with dynamite, and it is now part of the seabed. Theories regarding the ship vary between a crew riot, a hurricane-related accident, Bermuda triangle mysteries, and rum runners..
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3. Lady Lovibond
According to legend, since 1798, Lady Lovibond—a ghost schooner—will reappear every fifty years on the Goodwin Sands, located off the coast of Kent, in southeast England. The ship’s captain, Simon Reed (or Simon Peel) just got married to his wife Annetta, and he was so happy that he took her on board for a celebration trip. Unfortunately, Reed was not the only man on board who was charmed by Annetta.
John Rivers, the first mate and second-in-command on the ship, was the second candidate for the woman’s heart. On February 13, 1748, the bride gave a dinner party. Filled with jealousy and holding a belaying pin in his hands, Rivers killed the captain via one blow in the head on the deck behind the wheel.
Rivers then shipwrecked the Lovibond on Kent’s coast, causing everyone’s death. After the encounter, the ship was lost. What makes this story mysterious is something that occurred long after the tragic accident. According to a report from 1948, the “ghost” ship gave off a mysterious green glow when seen, giving it even an eerier appearance. It’s still uncertain whether or not the story is real, as some say it was fabricated for Valentine’s Day; however, it adds to the superstition that a woman should not be taken on board a vessel. In modern-day society, it is clear that the superstitions are just lack of knowledge.
In the case of this ship and situation, knowledge of the incident makes it clear that there is no space and time for jealousy while at sea; fatal encounters—such as the one that transpired on the Lady Lovibond—could potentially happen everywhere and under any circumstances.
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4. MV Joyita
MV Joyita was a merchant vessel built in 1931; it was constructed to endure harsh sea conditions and circumstances. The ship was used by the US Navy as a patrol during the World War II in Hawaii. Due to the war, it was heavily damaged; therefore, it was repaired in order to continue serving. On October 3, 1955, the ship was scheduled to transport copra to Tokelau Islands, estimated to arrive on October 5th. However, still missing, the ship was reported as overdue on October 6th. A rescue attempt endured for the next six days, but no trace of the vessel was found. On November 10th, MV Joyita was found partly flooded and far away from its scheduled route. None of the 25 passengers were on board. Four tons of copra and a few lifeboats were missing as well. The investigation that followed failed to ascertain the reason behind the incident, leaving only hypotheses, such as mutiny, the captain’s abandonment, or death.
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5. Young Teazer
The Young Teazer’s story is one of the most famous ghost ship stories of Nova Scotia, Canada. The ship was a US privateer schooner, and it was a victim of the Anglo-American War in 1812. On June 27, 1813, having been chased from HMS Hogue for almost a day, it was finally caught in Mahone Bay (between Rafuse Island and Mason Island).
The Hogue opened fire against the Young Teazer. The Teazer’s captain, William D. Dobson, decided that the crew must defend the schooner; however, Lt. Johnson did not want to cooperate. After their argument went below deck, an explosion suddenly occurred, killing most of the crew and destroying the ship.
Survivors from the Teazer were sent to Melville Island prisoner of war camp in Halifax. Here comes the interesting part of the story: over a century later, according to some accounts, the ship will regularly reappear in a glow or as if on fire, usually around the date of the explosion and near Mahone Bay, which is why it is famous as a ghost ship. However, it has been speculated that seeing the Young Teazer could be just an optical illusion coming from the moon, as the “ghost” ship is seen at night.
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6. SS Baychimo
Still missing, this ship’s destiny is quite peculiar. After being abandoned in 1931 due to its poor condition, the ship was supposed to sink to the seabed. However, it apparently didn’t. Later, it was occasionally spotted to sail freely; it was last seen around the north-west coast of Alaska in the latter part of the 20th century.
SS Baychimo was a Swedish built steel-hulled cargo steamer. Used as a cargo ship to trade provisions for pelts in the Inuit agreement in the area of Northwest Canada, after departing for its final trade on 1 October 1931, the crew abandoned the ship due to being stuck in pack ice. They saw the ship sailing away and reconciled with the fact it was gone. However, shortly after all men returned on board when Inuit (a group of Eskimos) informed them of the whereabouts of the ship.
Heavily damaged, the ship was considered dangerous. The crew was instructed to provide the cargo by air and left Baychimo on its own. Since then, it was seen numerous times at different locations, which is why it is considered a ghost ship.
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Another ghost ship that is occasionally sited sailing around open waters is the Octavius. It was a UK three-masted schooner that was in service in the mid-18th century. In October of 1775, the Octavius was found around the western territories of Greenland by the whaler Herald. According to the records, in 1761 while on a journey back from the Orient, the ship was caught in a trap of sea ice, leaving no chance for the crew to escape. When authorities found the ship investigated, they were shocked by the state of the crew. Everyone was dead and frozen. They found the captain in his cabin, still writing in his log. Unwilling to continue the search, they left only with the log to review the situation. According to them, in the cabin alongside the captain was a woman and a child, covered with a blanket.
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8. SS Valencia
Built as an ocean liner for service between Venezuela and New York City in 1882, the Valencia was not the fastest and most reliable ship at the time, with quite primitive compartmentalization. In January 1906, the Valencia was scheduled on a San Francisco–Seattle route. On January 20th, full of passengers, the ship departed in clear weather conditions.
However, the day after, luck was not on the side of the Valencia; due to a storm, it was misled from its scheduled route. Everything got worse when the SS Valencia struck a reef near Pachena Point on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. Soon afterward, the ship started to flood; therefore, the captain’s orders were to abandon the ship. Seven lifeboats were available, but only one of them was properly lowered as a result of the panic that ensued. Three of the lifeboats flipped, and all of the occupants found themselves in the open sea. One of the few survivors described the scene as horrifying—people were screaming, trying to save themselves. Soon thereafter, the ship sunk, causing the death of almost all passengers. The remnants of the ship and the crew could be seen long after the incident by local fishermen; rowboats were seen rowed by skeletons of the ship’s many victims.
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9. Mary Celeste
In 1861, a merchant brigantine (a two-masted sailing vessel) was built in America to be used as a regular shipping cargo to the West Indies, passing through the Atlantic Ocean. Her last service was on November 7th, 1872. From its dock in New York, the ship set off fully equipped. Unfortunately, at the end of the month, the Mary Celeste was noticed by a ship to sail freely by the Dei Gratia near the Azore Islands. The ship’s crew decided to ascertain if the crew was troubled and help them if necessary. The state of the ship was quite bad. Main parts were missing or broken, explaining its appearance. We can only imagine how disturbing it is to find an empty ship that had been recently in use.
As mentioned, the crew was gone, along with the ship’s single lifeboat and the captain’s logbook. There were 1500 barrels of alcohol on board; despite the crew’s absence, everything was seemingly calm, with no evidence of a fray, incident, or a robbery. All possibilities were considered, with the exception of piracy. However, as little can be concluded, it’s no surprise that conspiracy and paranormal theories have arisen over time.
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10. The Flying Dutchman
We all have heard of The Flying Dutchman—its story has inspired film directors and writers. There are some superstitious sorts who claim that seeing Flying Dutchman is a portent of doom for whoever sees it.
According to some accounts, the captain of the Flying Dutchman had sold his soul to the Devil, making it one of the most famous ghost ship stories of all times. The legend dates to the 17th century, and it is believed that the crew committed barbarities; in order to make their restitution, they were forbidden to dock the ship and were required to continue their service for eternity. Many people say they have sighted the ship, and it is only natural that speculations and rumors continue to this day.
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